Windows 10 (Part 2)

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Windows 10 was released to the general public on July 29, 2015. Since then, various issues and concerns have popped up among its users. One big concern is the telemetry (remote data collection) that is built into Windows 10. Windows IT Pro has written an article on how to turn off telemetry not only in Windows 10, but also in Windows 7 and Windows 8. Makeuseof has also written a number of articles regarding privacy concerns in Windows 10 and has links to various tools to help users change their privacy and telemetry settings. Relating to the privacy issues, KrebsonSecurity has addressed the concern that a default setting in Windows shares your WiFi connection with contacts you have in Outlook, Skype, or Facebook and offers suggestions on how to turn this feature off and make your WiFi network more secure.

If you are finding learning the ins and outs of Windows 10 a bit daunting, TechSoup has written a blog post that has information on the basics of Windows 10 and its features.

Throughout the course of several updates, Windows Update, the program that keeps the Windows operating system up-to-date, may have downloaded the Windows 10 installation files without the knowledge of the computer user. If you have noticed that your computer and/or internet connection has been slower, this may be the cause. Luckily, makeuseof has written an article that addresses what to do if the Windows 10 installation files have been downloaded to your computer. Sophos has also written a blog post related to removing unwanted Windows 10 installation files.

Have you downloaded Windows 10 yet? Tell us about it in the comments.

Pop Away from Popups and Other Unwanted Ads

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It’s happened to most people:  you’re browsing the internet, and suddenly a window pops up informing you that you need to update your software or maybe that you have a virus or perhaps one saying you’ve won a free iPad. Even to advanced computer users, some of these popup advertisements can look legitimate. How can the average computer user avoid bothersome popups?

Luckily, makeuseof has written a helpful article with some helpful tips on how to avoid malicious popups and how to tell if they are legitimate.

The author advises computer users to always check the URL in the address bar. Most software websites have URLs that are pretty straightforward. For example, if you are attempting to download Adobe Reader, the URL will be www.adobe.com. Try to avoid websites with super long web addresses. If you want to view the URL for a website, move your mouse over the link before clicking on it and the full URL will be displayed in the status bar near the bottom of the screen. Google will display the full URL of the search result in green below the link name. In the example below, the mouse cursor is on the link for the East Greenbush Library’s Wikipedia entry. Note the highlighted area near the bottom of the screen that displays the full link.

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Try to avoid pages that are full of text and advertisements. If you are still unsure if a download link is safe, check out a site like File Hippo, which is an aggregate site that contains mirror downloads of many popular programs like Adobe Reader and Java. On a related note, try to avoid the Google-ad results, which are usually the first few results that appear in a Google search and are marked with a little yellow ad banner.

If you are mindful about looking at a link before you click on it, you may notice a common trend of link shortening, for example, tiny.url or bit.ly links. How are you supposed to know if those links are legit? There is a great tool called Unshorten.It. You can copy and paste the shortened link and the site will display the full link as well as a small screenshot of the site. There are also various other sites that preform a similar function.

Some other helpful tips mentioned in the article:

  • Install a good anti-virus program. Many have an internet security feature that will highlight suspicious links and block popups.
  • Avoid searching for things like free video games and free screensavers. These are a common source of malware and shady links.
  • There are various browser-specific tips, such as changing your homepage to one you recognize and blocking popups directly with your browser (these options are found in the browser settings).
  • If you are a more advanced computer user, you may want to use a browser extension such as AdBlock Plus that will block ads from appearing on a webpage.
  • The article gives you instructions on what do if you accidentally click on a popup or ad and seem to be stuck.

If you are still getting unwanted popups after trying the tips discussed in the article, you may have malware installed on your computer. If this happens, there are steps you can take to remove it. Check out makeuseof’s malware removal guide for more information.